Leonid Kostiukov


Program Bio
October, 2007: University of Iowa International Writers Program and New York City
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Leonid Kostyukov is a prose writer, poet, and literary critic. His work has been published in Serbia, Israel, France and the United States. He frequently presents his work to audiences across Russia and teaches literary master classes, including creative writing seminars.

In the writer’s own words:

I was born in 1959 to a family of actors. I graduated from a mathematics high school and earned a mechanical mathematics degree at Moscow State University in 1981. Throughout my youth, I wrote poems, but I never took writing any more seriously than math. But when I began trying to write prose in 1982, a life-altering shift occurred. The following year, I applied to the Literary Institute and graduating in 1989. From that time on, I never wavered in my commitment to writing, although for many years I had to teach math in schools and colleges. But, little by little, I found an orbit of literary work: teaching (particularly creative writing), cultural journalism, essay writing, and literary criticism. The most interesting part has turned out to be the compiling and editing my two-volume anthology of contemporary Russian poetry, and my own multimedia journal, Girl With a Rake (Devushka s veslom) — and now I am planning a new anthology of poetry and short prose. I have also found fulfillment working on the panel and steering committee of the Debut prize, one of Russia’s premiere contests for young writers. But the main thing is my own prose and (more rarely) poems.

I have published two books of prose (plus one little one) and a textbook on journalism. In addition, my stories, fiction, novels, poems, and articles have appeared in 98 publications (as of July 2007), which, admittedly, is standard for a man who has pursued this vocation. I have two literary prizes of intermediate prestige.

My favorite writers are Chekov, Stevenson, Frisch, Vonnegut, Marcus, Trifonov, Gazdanov, and Kundera. My favorite poets are Georgii Ivanov, Zabolotski, and Arseni Tarkovski. Of my contemporaries, I must mention Gandelevski, Khersonskii, Losev, and Tsvetkov. I would like continue the lists, but such a recapitulation would be boring...

I think that prose writing is a sort of dreaming out loud, and, a prose writer above all must not lose the ability to capture these dreams.